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Newport Folk Festival hidden gems part II - Sunday’s lineup

July 27, 2012

Trampled by Turtles

The hottest ticket in music? One can arguably say this summer’s Newport Folk Festival is one of them. Sold out by May, the 2012 edition has a bottomless pit of talent performing over its three days. It’ begins with a performance by Wilco along with the bands Blitzen Trapper and Megafaun on Friday night before two full s days of music on Saturday and Sunday. This week, Ear Bliss concludes a two part look at some of these more under the radar acts appearing on the Sunday menu. Let’s dig in.

Performer: Tallest Man on Earth
Where from: Dalarna, Sweden
Latest album: There’s No Leaving Now (2012, Dead Oceans Records)
RIYL: Bob Dylan, Loudon Wainwright
Description: Singer/songwriter who on first listen resembles an early Bob Dylan until you peel back the onion.
Tidbit: Real name is Kristian Matsson and he is married to fellow Swedish singer-songwriter Amanda Bergman, who performs under the name of Idiot Wind.

Performer: Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman
Where from: Los Angeles, CA
Latest album: World Wide Rebel Songs (2011, New West Records)
RIYL: Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle
Description: Politically infused high energy folk music.
Tidbit: Morello has been a member of such hard rock bands as Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave..

Performer: Trampled by Turtles
Where from: Duluth, MN
Latest album: Stars & Satellites (2012, Banjodad Records)
RIYL: Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show
Description: Bluegrass band that melds rock, punk, and indie influences into its traditional based music.
Tidbit: The band’s 2010 release Palomino spent 52 consecutive weeks in the Top 10 of the Billboard Magazine bluegrass chart.

Performer: Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires
Where from: Brooklyn, NY
Latest album: No Time for Dreaming (2011, Dunham Records)
RIYL: Otis Redding, James Brown
Description: Gut-bucket soul in the style of old school Stax sounds.
Tidbit: Was a James Brown impersonator going by the name “Black Velvet.” Bradley is the subject of a documentary, Soul of America, that premiered at SXSW in 2012.

Performer: Gary Clark, Jr
Where from: Austin, TX
Latest album: Bright Lights EP (2011, Warner Brothers Records)
RIYL: Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters
Description: Blues guitarist of the first order blending rock and soul into his fluid guitar style and a voice that moves from guttural howl to falsetto trill.
Tidbit: Clark played the guitar wiz in John Sayles’ 2007 film Honeydripper.

Performer: New Multitudes
Where from: various locales
Latest album: New Multitudes (2012, Rounder Records)
RIYL: Son Volt, Monsters of Folk
Description: All-star collaboration featuring Jay Farrar (Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt), Yim Yames (My Morning Jacket, Monsters of Folk), Anders Parker (Varnaline), and Will Johnson (Centro-Matic).
Tidbit: The band’s album is an intimate interpretation of American icon and musical legend Woody Guthrie’s previously unrecorded lyrics.

Performer: Jonathan Wilson
Where from: Los Angeles, Ca
Latest album: Gentle Spirit (2011, Yep Roc)
RIYL: Jayhawks, Dawes
Description: Laurel Canyon-styled mélange of folk, pysch and country rock.
Tidbit: Wilson is currently curating a collection of songs as part of What You Need Is What You Have, The Songs of Roy Harper, a Roy Harper tribute album.

Performer: The Deep Dark Woods
Where from: Saskatoon, Canada
Latest album: Place I Left Behind (2011, WEA International)
RIYL: Gillian Welch, The Low Anthem, Fleet Foxes
Description: American roots music buoyed by tasteful instrumentation and solid harmonies.
Tidbit: The Deep Dark Woods have been nominated for Emerging Artist of the Year by the Americana Music Association.

Performer: Rodriguez
Where from: Detroit, MI
Latest album: Coming from Reality (2009 reissue, Light in the Attic Records)
RIYL: Fred Neil, Bob Dylan
Description: Cult folkie from the 1970s who fell into obscurity until Seattle-based Light in the Attic Records reissued his two 1970s albums made for Sussex Records.
Tidbit: Rodriguez has sold more records than Elvis in South Africa where he is a household name. He is the subject of a new documentary making the film festival circuit rounds titled Searching for Sugarman and about to make its national release.

Performer: Joe Fletcher
Where from: Warren, RI
Latest album: White Lighter (2011, White Lighter Records)
RIYL: Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan
Description: Local hero Fletcher plays Americana music drawing from folk, blues, rockabilly, and country traditions.
Tidbit: Fletcher is busily at work at on the follow-up record to White Lighter.

Performer: Jonah Tolchin
Where from: Shannock, RI
Latest album: Criminal Man (2012, self-released)
RIYL: Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie
Description: Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Tolchin combines the sounds of folk, blues, bluegrass, and Americana music on his latest album.
Tidbit: Tolchin attended high school in New Hampshire and at 15 found himself sharing a stage with blues guitar legend Ronnie Earl. By the way, he is only 19.


It’s a full weekend at The Knickerbocker Café (35 Railroad Ave, Westerly) with Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter Jonah Smith performing on Friday night and native son Johnny Nicholas back from Texas for a Saturday night appearance. Music starts each night at 9 pm.
The Superchief Trio holds court for your listening and dancing pleasure at The Narragansett Café (25 Narragansett Ave, Jamestown) on Sunday afternoon from 4–7 pm.

(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 to 9 p.m. on WRIU-FM 90.3.)


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